The Ninevite king did not know that Jonah’s God, the real God, would forgive their sins and withhold His judgment. But they repented anyway. Biblical preaching involves both proclaiming God’s judgment and offering His forgiveness. If the message preached is only forgiveness, listeners may simply yawn and think they have no repenting to do. If the message preached is only judgment, they may fall into despair and conclude there is no hope.
18 Who is a God like you, who
pardons sin and forgives the transgression
of the remnant of his inheritance?
You do not stay angry forever
but delight to show mercy.
19 You will again have compassion on us;
you will tread our sins underfoot
and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.
20 You will be faithful to Jacob,
and show love to Abraham,
as you pledged on oath to our ancestors
in days long ago. (Micah 7)
Micah is speaking of forgiveness for God’s covenant people, but outsiders (like the Ninevites) are invited into God’s family as early as Genesis 12 where Abraham was promised that he would be a blessing “to all nations.”
God is not willing that any should perish, as we read in 2 Peter 3:9- “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (see also Mt. 18:14). (to be continued)